Antioxidant Rich Spices & Their Health Benefits
Your kitchen is the best store-house for natural powerful antioxidants, just give close attention to it. Let’s check out the some common antioxidant rich spices and their health benefits.
Since ancient times spices are used to add flavour and taste to foods. These kitchen spices are packed with several nutritional and health benefits. All kitchen spices are rich source of antioxidants that plays an important role in neutralizing toxic free radicals.
Now, what are the antioxidants? And why are they beneficial for us? Or how can we know the strength of antioxidants in food ? How some antioxidant-rich kitchen spices help us fight against several health issues.
Well, I will help you understand these questions in this article. Let’s take a look.
What are Antioxidants
Antioxidants in simple terms are your body’s detoxifiers. These are the compounds that interact with free radicals produced by your body. They neutralizes the harmful activities of free radicals, and prevent cell damage. Antioxidants convert toxins of your body into harmless waste products which are naturally excreted from the body.
Some examples of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, flavonoids, omega 3-fatty acid, and selenium that are present in your food.
Antioxidants capacity of foods is measured by a test known as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test. It had been developed by the scientist of the National Institute of Health and Ageing (NIH).
Foods with higher ORAC value have better antioxidant activity, and can more efficiently neutralize harmful free radicals produced by your body.
The USDA recommends an ORAC unit intake of about 3000 to 5000 units daily.
Antioxidants are found mostly in fruits, vegetables, cereals, leguminous plants, and medicinal plants/herbs. Culinary herbs and spices available in your kitchen also contain a high level of antioxidants.
Here are 9 antioxidant-rich kitchen spices with their ORAC values and their health benefits:
Antioxidant rich Spices
1. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
ORAC value: 159277 μmol TE/100gm
- Curcumin (3-4%)
- Carbohydrates (60-70%)
- Protein (6-8%)
- Fat (5-10%),
- Minerals (3-7%)
The bioactive compound curcumin is responsible for the yellow color, antioxidant activities, and a number of other medical applications of turmeric.
Health benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has been used in several ayurvedic medicines since Vedic ages. It is one of the best antioxidant rich spices that can cure your entire body.
- Turmeric powder or fresh turmeric has beneficial effects on the digestive system. It can help you in digestion, heartburn, loss of appetite, stomach ache, diarrhea, intestinal gas, gastric ulcers, and liver problems.
- Turmeric powder features a healing effect on both septic and aseptic wounds. Rhizome paste is employed to treat wounds, bruises, inflamed joints, and sprains.
- Turmeric paste is employed to ease the symptoms of gout, rheumatism, and both acute and chronic arthritis.
- Turmeric powder with hot milk cures cold, cough, fever, headache, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and bronchitis.
- The bioactive compound of turmeric, curcumin may help to suppress the spread and growth of tumor cells of a variety of cancer like colorectal, pancreatic, breast, prostate, lung, and leukemia.
- Regular intake of turmeric may prevent diabetes, high cholesterol, heart problems, bladder inflammation, piles, and kidney problems.
- Application of turmeric powder mixed with gram flour and curd treats various skin problems like acne, skin sores, ringworm, and burns. It also delays aging.
- Regular intake helps in preventing and treating various neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It also helps to ease anxiety and stress.
Curcumin is out there in several forms like curcumin powder, golden milk, turmeric tea, curcumin capsules and tablets, ointments, energy drinks, soaps, and cosmetics.
2. Ginger ( Zinziber officinale)
- Dry Ginger (powder): 28,811 μmol TE/100gm
- Raw Ginger (root): 14,840 μmol TE/100gm
- Gingerol (23-25%)
- Shogaol 18-25%)
- Carbohydrates (50-70%)
- Fat (3-8%)
Besides these, amino acids, fiber, protein, phytosterols, vitamin A, vitamin B3, and minerals are also present.
The antioxidant activity and health benefits of ginger are mainly attributed to bioactive compounds, gingerols, and shogaols.
The ORAC value revealed that dry ginger exhibit stronger antioxidant activity than fresh ginger. In Ayurveda, dry ginger is known as ‘Sunthi’ and extensively utilized in traditional medicines.
Health benefits of Ginger
- Ginger juice mixed with cinnamon powder and honey is beneficial in the treatment of several common diseases, such as headache, cold, cough, sinus congestion, hoarseness of voice, and flu symptoms. Thanks to its warming effect, ginger is employed as antiviral.
- It is helpful to prevent nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, motion sickness, and surgery. Ginger also regulates menstruation.
- Ayurvedic medicinal system use ginger juice or powdered ginger to treat various gastrointestinal problems like indigestion, stomach pain, excess gas, constipation, flatulence, bloating, heartburn, colitis, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
- Ginger has been reported as a pain relief for osteoarthritis, muscle pain, chest pain, low back pain, stomach pain, and menstrual pain.
- Fresh juice of ginger has been shown to treat skin burns.
- Ginger helps break down blood clots and may aid in preventing heart attacks.
- Fresh ginger is also additionally useful to warm the body for boosting blood circulation and lowering high blood pressure.
- Ginger also exhibits cytotoxic activity against colorectal, prostate, breast, cervical, liver, and pancreatic cancer.
It is out there in forms like ginger oil, ginger powder, health drink, dry ginger, ginger candy, ginger tea, ginger squash, and cosmetics.
3. Garlic (Allium sativum)
ORAC value: 5346 μmol TE/100gm
- Alliin (0.6-1.4%)
- Allicin (0.2-0.4%)
- Carbohydrates (26-30%)
- Protein (1-2%)
Garlic is a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Besides it’s an honest source of minerals including potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and sodium.
The bioactive compounds Alliin and Allicin are responsible for the health benefits and the typical garlic smell.
Health benefits of Garlic
Garlic is one of the extremely important antioxidant rich spices in both ancient and modern ages. It features a wide range of traditional uses all over the world. Besides its use in fresh, cooked and dehydrated forms, there are many folk medicines prepared from garlic.
- Garlic is a strong natural stimulant and antibiotic. When raw garlic is crushed allicin is formed which has strong antibiotic property. Fresh garlic is an effective detoxifier as it cleanses blood and lymph.
- Regular intake of two to three garlic cloves reduces blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels. Allicin prevents aggregation of platelets, thereby reducing the danger of strokes delaying the bleeding and clotting time.
- Crushed garlic cloves with honey help in indigestion, abdominal pain, enlarged spleen, dysentery, and intestinal worms.
- Garlic is sweet for kidney disorders and obesity.
- Crushed garlic cloves mixed with honey are useful for a variety of respiratory illnesses including the common cold, chronic cough, headache, and flu.
- The use of crushed garlic fried in coconut oil is effective for many skin problems like acne, rashes, birthmarks, leprosy, ulcers, eczema, and baldness.
- Garlic boiled with vinegar and sugar is employed as a topical antiseptic.
Several forms including garlic powder, granulated garlic, garlic oil, garlic capsules and tablets, fermented non-pungent black garlic, garlic sauce, chutney, pickle, and shampoo are available in the market.
4. Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
ORAC value: 2764 μmol TE/100gm
- Cineole: 36.3%
- Carbohydrate: 52.5%
- Protein: 19%
- Fat: 23%
The positive properties of cardamom are mainly due to bioactive compound cineole. It is also a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and minerals like manganese, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and copper.
Health Benefits of Cardamom
- Cardamom is beneficial in the treatment of acute respiratory disorders like cold, cough, headache and migraine, hoarseness of voice, blockage of nose, pharyngitis, and flu symptoms.
- It is helpful for various gastrointestinal problems like indigestion, excess gas, constipation, diarrhea, and dysentery.
- Regular cardamom intake significantly reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Cineole, the major active component of cardamom oil, is a potent antiseptic that is known to kill bacteria producing bad breath and other infections
- Cardamom is beneficial for cardiovascular, digestive, pulmonary, kidney and lung associated disorders, liver disorders, and other stress-associated diseases.
It is available in the form of whole spice or seeds.
5. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
ORAC value: 267536 μmol TE/100gm
- Cinnamaldehyde: 65- 80%
- Eugenol: 5- 10%
- Fiber: 17%
Cinnamon has tremendous antioxidant activity due to its chief constituent cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. It is an honest source of vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
- Cinnamon is beneficial for influenza, common cold, headache, cough, and pharyngitis.
- It could potentially be utilized in cancer prevention limiting tumor cell growth and in enhancing tumor cell apoptosis. Cinnamon can improve colon health, thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer.
- Cinnamon acts as a coagulant and prevents bleeding.
- Traditionally cinnamon has also been used as tooth powder and to treat toothaches, dental problems, and bad breath.
- Intake of 1-6 gm of cinnamon powder per day reduces blood glucose and total cholesterol level.
- Cinnamon has the potentiality to treat neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- It also has the potential to be used to treat cardiovascular diseases. It strengthens the heart.
Cinnamon is out there in powder form or as pieces of bark, essential oil, supplements, and cosmetics.
6. Clove ( Syzygium aromaticum)
ORAC value: 314446 μmol TE/100gm
- Carbohydrate: 57.5%
- Protein: 6.5%
- Fat: 15.35%
- Eugenol: 70-85%
Clove is a powerful source of antioxidants. It is another antioxidant rich spices beneficial as a home remedy in curing several common ailments.
Health benefits of Clove
- Cloves can effectively cure many digestive problems like flatulence, loose motions, indigestion, diarrhea, gastric irritability, vomiting, and nausea.
- Oil of clove as well as whole clove oil boost the immune system by purifying the blood and help to fight against various diseases. Eugenol present within the clove can effectively prevent lung cancer, skin cancer, and cancer of the gastrointestinal system.
- Cloves also help prevent the breakdown within the retina of the eye, which slows down macular degeneration and aids vision in elderly people.
- It is a good expectorants. Inhalation of clove oil helps soothe certain respiratory conditions like cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and clearing the nasal tract.
- Cloves benefit diabetic patients by controlling blood sugar levels. Eugenol acts as a powerful agent for preventing blood clots.
- Clove oil is employed to cure the symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. Muscular cramps are also often relieved when the oil is applied near the affected area.
- Paste of clove powder with honey is beneficial to treat acne, healing of cuts, and bites.
- Sucking off a clove bud reduces the desire for alcohol. Sniffing the aroma of cloves reduces drowsiness, irritability, and headaches.
- Clove is used in various dental creams, sorts of toothpaste, mouthwashes, and throat spray to cleanse bacteria. In dentistry, eugenol in combination with zinc oxide is used for the temporary filling of cavities. It relieves pain from sore gums.
- It is also effective in curing the Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) and nail fungus.
Clove is out there as a whole spice and clove oil.
7. Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
ORAC value: 27,618 μmol TE/100gm
- Carbohydrate: 38-49%
- Fibre: 8-18%
- Piparine and Pipasine: 5-10%
Black pepper is a rich source of minerals like manganese, copper, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium source, and vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B2 and vitamin B6.
Health Benefits of Black pepper
Black pepper is considered as ‘king of spices’ . It has vast pharmacological potential with minimum side effects. Black pepper is one of the most widely used antioxidant rich spices. The main bioactive compound piperine has various pharmacological activities.
- Black pepper improves digestion. Pepper helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas, diarrhea, constipation, and colic.
- It promotes urination and sweating, through which toxins are expelled from the body.
- Black pepper is used to cure the symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis, and muscle pain.
- It is also a good expectorant, and acts as a natural tonic for the treatment of common cold, cough, asthma, sinusitis, and nasal congestion.
- Black pepper assists in the breakdown of fat cells; thereby helping you shed weight naturally.
- It can help you to cure vitiligo and reduces the chances of skin cancer due to excessive ultraviolet radiation.
- Black pepper and its active ingredients could be helpful in chemoprevention and controlling the progression of tumor growth.
- In addition, black pepper helps keep your arteries clean, thereby reducing atherosclerosis, the condition highly responsible for heart attack and stroke.
- Black pepper has beneficial effects on gastric mucosal damage and peptic ulcers, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is out in the market as a whole spice and in powder form.
8. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
ORAC value (leaves, raw): 5141 μmol TE/100gm
- Carbohydrate: 24%
- Protein: 11.49%
- Fibre: 28.43%
- Linalool: 60-80%
Coriander is well known for its numerous health benefits. Due to its multifunctional uses and protective and preventive action against various chronic diseases, this herb is known as “herb of happiness”.
Health benefits of Coriander
- The coriander seed extract is used as a standard traditional medicine for diabetic patients. Incorporation of coriander powder in diet led to a marked decline in blood sugar and an increase in insulin level.
- Dietary supplements of coriander powder and herbs act as preventive and curative herbal medicine against hyperlipidemia.
- Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the treatment of insomnia. It is often used as a potential sedative and muscle relaxant.
- Many coriander preparation is used as medicines to cure a common cold, seasonal fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach disorders, indigestion, and also used as a drug for worms.
- Coriander is used to cure the symptoms of rheumatism and pain within the joints.
- Essential oil of coriander and coriander powder are used as natural food preservatives that have antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
- Coriander contains a high amount of essential oils that are vital for the growth and proper functioning of the brain.
- Fresh juice of coriander is extremely advantageous in curing many deficiencies associated with vitamins and iron. One to two teaspoons of its juice added to buttermilk is incredibly beneficial in curing many diseases.
Coriander is out there as a whole spice and in powder form.
9. Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
ORAC value: 76800 μmol TE/100gm
- Carbohydrate: 34%
- Protein: 32%
- Fibre: 26%
- Thymoquinone: 30-48%
Cumin is a rich source of almost all vitamins and minerals. The major bioactive component thymoquinone is responsible for most of the therapeutic properties of this spice.
Health Benefits of Cumin
Cumin seeds are used in home remedies and traditional medicine, to aid digestion, chronic diarrhea, dysentery, and acute gastritis.
Dietary intake of cumin powder lowers blood sugar level and hyperlipidemia associated with diabetes mellitus
Cumin seeds are traditionally used for the treatment of hypertension. It can significantly inhibit stomach tumor and colon cancer.
Cumin is also used to treat several neurodegenerative diseases especially insomnia and Parkinson’s disease.
It is out there as a whole spice and as a cumin powder.
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